European Federation of Biotechnology

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Established by European scientists in 1978, the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) is Europe's non-profit federation of National Biotechnology Associations, Learned Societies, Universities, Scientific Institutes, Biotech Companies and individual biotechnologists working to promote Biotechnology throughout Europe and beyond. [1]

The EFB has claimed to be a 'voluntary association of European non-profit-making scientific and technical societies active in the field of biotechnology' but this is misleading because it has an extensive corporate membership of around 100 Public and Private Companies with direct biotech interests. These include firms as big as Monsanto Europe.[2]

It also has a number of National Bio-industry Associations as members, including the US industry's major trade association - BIO: the Biotechnology Industry Organization.[3] and Association of German Biotech Companies (VBU), [4], of which Bayer is a member.

EFB lists as one of its activities to "Maintain good contacts with and serve in an advisory capacity to the European Commission"[5]

Its president is Marc Van Montagu who is presented as a public scientist - Emeritus Professor at Ghent University, Belgium - who's interested in helping the developing world but he has had significant longstanding commercial interests in the uptake of GM crops worldwide. (http://www.ipbo.rug.ac.be/aboutus/mvm.html) He founded the biotech company Plant Genetic Systems Inc. in 1982, of which he was Scientific Director and member of the board of Directors. PGS Inc. was regarded as one of Europe's most successful biotech companies in the early days of biotech and went on to be bought in 1996 by the German multinational AgrEvo/Hoechst which was later incorporated into Aventis which, in turn, was taken over by Bayer. Van Montagu was also involved in founding the biotech company CropDesign, of which he was a Board member from 1998 to 2004. CropDesign was recently acquired by BASF Plant Science. He links to several other lobby groups for biotech, including PRRI.( http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/20/)

Several members of their Board have direct links with GM industry. A few examples:

  • Klaus Amman: He sits on steering committees for Gensuisse, a GM promotion group funded by the pharmaceutical industry body Interpharma Internutrition - a promotion group for GM foods. It has in its working group representatives from the food industry (e.g. Nestlé) as well as chemical/GM companies Monsanto, Hoffmann LaRoche, DuPont, and Syngenta. Ammann is co-editor of the Bio-Scope Frankfurt-Bern website, supported by GM industry group Europabio. He was an early and active supporter of the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI) which seeks to limit biosafety controls on GM crops. (http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=8&page=A )
  • Patrick Rüdelsheim – Involved in various companies, in 1996 he became Global Head of Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs for the AgrEvo group. After the creation of Aventis S.A. by the merger of Hoechst and Rhône-Poulenc, he became Global Head Regulatory Affairs BioScience of Aventis CropScience and following the acquisition of Aventis CropScience by Bayer in 2002, he was confirmed in that position for Bayer CropScience. [6]
  • Marc Zabeau: Director Research of Plant Genetic Systems N.V. Gent, Belgium, has founded four biotech companies (Helix CV in Belgium, the agricultural biotech company KeyGene N.V. in Wageningen, The Netherlands, a human genetics biotech company GenScope Inc., and Methexis N.V. in Gent, Belgium). [7]
  • David McConnell (Chairman, EAGLES Health Programme & EFB EAGLES Task Group, Co-Vice Chairman of EAGLES, Trinity College Dublin). The EFB funds the biotech lobby group EAGLES – European Action on Global Life Sciences (www.efb-eagles.org). EAGLES perpetuates the biotech industry myth that GM technology will end world hunger and 'solve the problems of illness, starvation and environmental degradation'. EAGLES used its supposed concern for such humanitarian causes to seek EC funding from taxpayers in 2003. The request was turned down but EAGLES is applying for EC support once again. [8]

Notes

  1. http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Main/why_join
  2. http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Members/public_and_private_companies
  3. http://www.efbweb.org/who/natbio.htm
  4. http://www.v-b-u.org/
  5. Why Join?, EFB website, accessed March 2009
  6. http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Members/profiles/31037
  7. http://www.epsoweb.org/Catalog/TP/docs/bio_zabeau.PDF
  8. http://www.gmfreeireland.org/mediawatch/index.php